Advancing the Science

Mayo Clinic Medical Science Blog – an eclectic collection of research- and research education-related stories: feature stories, mini news bites, learning opportunities, profiles and more from Mayo Clinic.

June 2, 2020

Research News Roundup–May 2020

By Elizabeth Zimmermann
photo from Lerman lab, researcher wearing PPE, taking extra safety precautions post-COVID

During May, Mayo Clinic articles sharing research-related news fell into one of two thematic areas: cancer and COVID-19. For ease of review, they are grouped below, cancer findings first. Read on for more information from Mayo Clinic Research.

Cancer research findings

Carfilzomib is not superior to Bortezomib in delaying multiple myeloma progression after initial treatment

Carfilzomib, a proteasome inhibitor used in combination with Lenalidomide, an immune modulating drug, is not superior to Bortezomib, Lenalidomide and Dexamethasone, in the initial treatment of multiple myeloma according to the results of phase 3 clinical trial presented today at #ASCO20 scientific program by Shaji Kumar, M.D. , a hematologist at Mayo Clinic.


Olanzapine may help control nausea, vomiting in patients with advanced cancer

Olanzapine, a generic drug used to treat nervous, emotional and mental conditions, also may help patients with advanced cancer successfully manage nausea and vomiting unrelated to chemotherapy. These are the findings of a study published Thursday, May 7 in JAMA Oncology.

Charles Loprinzi, M.D., a Mayo Clinic medical oncologist, played a leadership role in this work in conjunction with Rudolph Navari, M.D., of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Article is also available in Spanish.

COVID-19 research efforts, emerging findings

Managing levels of specific protein, mineral early in COVID-19 may prevent severe illness

Managing levels of calcium in the blood and the protein albumin early on in COVID-19 may prevent patients from progressing to severe illness and death, a study by Mayo Clinic researchers published in the journal Gastroenterology found. The findings are based on the remarkably similar clinical features and autopsy results of patients who died of COVID-19 and patients whose organ failure resulted from the release of unsaturated fatty acid caused by other illnesses, says lead researcher Vijay Singh, MBBS, a gastroenterologist at Mayo Clinic in Arizona.


Racing against time, medical researchers, life science companies and COVID-19 survivors launch national campaign to drive plasma donation

A coalition of world-leading medical and research institutions, blood centers, life science companies, technology companies, philanthropic organizations, and COVID-19 survivor groups has come together to support the rapid development of potential new therapies for patients with COVID-19. Working together under the "The Fight Is In Us" campaign, the coalition is seeking to mobilize tens of thousands of people in the U.S. who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate their blood plasma, which contains vital antibodies that have fought off the disease and could now help others do the same.


Mayo researchers, minority communities team up to combat COVID-19 health disparities

As the COVID-19 pandemic takes more lives each day across the U.S., public health officials report that racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionately impacted. In a paper published as an accepted pre-proof article May 15, 2020, in the Journal of Clinical and Translational Science, researchers at Mayo Clinic detail how a community-engaged intervention tackled critical health communication problems within vulnerable minority communities.

Community leaders collaborated with medical experts to serve as trusted conduits of information to their communities. The shared goal was to help people of diverse backgrounds understand what they need to know about COVID-19 prevention and testing, how to seek care, and how to access community resources. 


Early indicators: Investigational convalescent plasma is safe for patients with COVID-19

Mayo Clinic and collaborators today reported safety data on the first 5,000 hospitalized patients transfused with investigational convalescent plasma as part of the Food and Drug Administration’s national Expanded Access Program (EAP) for COVID-19. The early indicators suggest experimental convalescent plasma is safe in treating severely ill patients. At this time, convalescent plasma is the only antibody-based therapy available for COVID-19.

The report assessed the first seven days following transfusion of 5,000 patients hospitalized with severe or life-threatening COVID-19, or who were deemed at high risk of progressing to severe or life-threatening status.


FDA issues emergency use authorization for algorithm designed to improve detection of heart failure during COVID-19

The FDA granted Emergency Use Authorization to Eko, a digital health company, for the heart screening algorithm developed by Mayo Clinic. The AI-driven algorithm can detect weak heart pump, which is commonly detected by echocardiogram, a test that is not normally conducted during a physical exam, requires specially trained technicians to record, and requires prolonged contact with the patient.

"Given the danger COVID-19 poses to patients with a weak heart pump, it’s important that we rapidly identify these individuals early and monitor them closely. By embedding the heart failure screening AI into a quick, widely available, and safe test using existing medical devices, we can detect heart failure early and start appropriate treatments," said Dr. Paul Friedman, Chair of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, Mayo Clinic. "Additionally, for people with COVID-19, we may be able to identify when the virus causes the development of a weak heart pump quickly, safely, and easily using these AI tools."


New collaboration on COVID-19 response to include new serology test

Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. announced it will expand its response to the COVID-19 pandemic by developing a total antibodies test in collaboration with WuXi Diagnostics and Mayo Clinic. The new test is the result of ongoing collaboration between all three organizations, including clinical evaluation and support from Mayo Clinic. Thermo Fisher will seek U.S. FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) and international regulatory authorizations for the test over the next few weeks.


VIRUS: COVID-19 registry first to track global ICU experience to shed light on trends in care of critically ill patients

he Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) and Mayo Clinic have partnered to launch the first global COVID-19 registry that tracks ICU and hospital care patterns in near real-time. Created by SCCM’s Discovery, the Critical Care Research Network, the Viral Infection and Respiratory Illness Universal Study (VIRUS) will reveal practice variations and provide a rich database for research into effective treatments and care. 

The registry, which is growing daily, features a dashboard of data based on more than 3,400 patients from 110 healthcare sites in eight countries. Updated regularly, the dashboard tracks data on trends such as mechanical ventilation duration, ICU length of stay, ICU discharge details and the type of medical support patients receive, as well as patient demographics: gender, age and race.

Article is also available in Spanish.


Mayo Clinic receives $26 million from BARDA for COVID-19 convalescent plasma expanded access program

Mayo Clinic was awarded a $26 million contract today from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The financial support is for the Expanded Access Program (EAP) for convalescent plasma to fight COVID-19.

Announced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on April 3, the national program, which is led by Mayo Clinic researcher Michael Joyner, M.D., coordinates a national online physician/patient registry (uscovidplasma.org) that speeds access and increases availability of experimental convalescent plasma for hospitalized patients in need.

Article is also available in Spanish.

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Tags: antibodies, artificial intelligence, cardiovascular medicine, Center for Clinical and Translational Science, Charles Loprinzi, chemotherapy, community engagement, COVID-19, Findings, gastroenterology, health disparities, hemato, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Mayo Clinic Laboratories, Michael Joyner, multiple myeloma, News, oncology, Paul Friedman, plasma, Research News Roundup, Shaji Kumar, Vijay Singh

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